Whether you’re planning a small local gathering or a large conference, social media can be used to get the word out in a powerful way.
In this article I’ll reveal seven creative ways to use social media to increase your chances for a gangbuster event.
Start With a Marketing Plan
The first thing you need to do is develop a high-level marketing plan. This will include answering the “who, what, where, when, why and how long” questions for your event.
Check out this video on how to create a marketing plan.
Here are a few tips to help you create a marketing plan:
- Identify your target audience.
- Use all of your communication channels. These can include your email list, website, podcast, social communities, affiliates, webinars and sponsors.
- Consider the creative assets you already have available. Are there videos, audio, photographs, blog posts by other people and graphics you can use?
#1: Use Video on Your Sales Pages
Video is one of the most powerful ways to sell what you have to offer, and where you place it on your event sales page can be very important. You can use YouTube or Vimeo to easily add video to your sales page.
When you visit the sales page for Social Media Marketing World, one of the first things you notice is our sales video.
The key is to start with a catchy headline, an opening sentence and your video. Share the remainder of what you have to offer below your video. Remember that you can put the video in multiple places on your event sales pages, including the sidebar.
Here are a few tips on how to produce a quality video that’ll get people to hit the Play button:
- Grab a screenshot from a testimonial of someone who looks excited, or a visually stunning image of the location, etc.
- Use this screenshot as your thumbnail.
- In the intro, choreograph images and words so there’s always something to entertain the eye.
- Play music in the background.
- Tell viewers about the things they’ll discover, so they stick around to watch the rest of the video.
- Express excitement in your voice.
- Include video clips and still photography.
- Make sure your words and story are choreographed.
Video can be an extremely powerful way to convey your message.
#2: Empower Affiliates to Promote What You Have to Sell
The key to affiliate marketing is to empower your affiliate marketers to share your event. For them to make a decision on promoting your product, event or activity, you need to make the process effortless.
Here are some tips on resources to include in your affiliate promo page:
- Write a script for an audio ad to give out to podcasters.
- Create an embed code for videos, which can be copied and pasted into an article.
- Provide a variety of videos. They can include an overview of the event, testimonials and information about the location.
- Create banner advertisements. Make sure you put a call to action on each one. Including the speakers’ faces can help generate a high click-through rate.
- Offer larger images that can be used on Facebook. The key to images is having lots of different sizes.
- Use support photos. These can be from a previous event that you hosted.
- Precraft tweets. This is the secret sauce.
- Use your assets to create a cool blog post. It’s a great way to help convert sales.
- Provide a blurb/short description for people who curate event listings.
A lot of work goes into creating an affiliate resource page, but once you have it, it’s so simple for someone to use.
#3: Use Testimonials in Your Marketing
Using testimonials in your marketing can be super-powerful.
You can gather testimonials in two ways.
The first is to ask people who attended your event to fill out a survey. You can use a system like SurveyMonkey. The two most important questions you need to ask are:
- Would you recommend this conference to a friend or colleague?
- If you were recommending this conference to a friend or colleague, what would you say?
The second way is to record someone recommending what you have to offer. First, ask the person what he or she thought about the event, then lead into the second question about what they thought of the networking. Usually, what comes out of the second question is spectacular.
Once you’ve gathered all of the testimonials, go through them and identify the best ones.
Finally, you can pull everything together by using small clips from each testimonial to make one powerful video. For example, check out the completed testimonial video for Social Media Marketing World.
#4: Empower Prospects to Sell You to the Boss
If you sell expensive or complex products, the last thing you want to do is have an unprepared prospect spring the event on his or her boss. You need to make it effortless for prospects to pitch the idea successfully.
One of your best options is to provide easily accessible information for prospects in a “Need to convince the boss?” box on your website.
Once someone clicks this box on our event page, it takes him or her through to the Convincing the Boss page. It not only provides a downloadable PDF flyer, but also an email that they can easily customize so it’s more personal.
In the email template you provide, you should include:
- An opening sentence that sounds like it’s from the person sending it
- An explanation that says they want to look out for the best interests of the company
- A description of what’s in it for them and the company if they attend
- A few factoids about the product, service or event
- A call to action
When you make it effortless for prospects to pitch your event, it enables them to present it to decision-makers.
#5: Create and Promote Quality Link Bait Posts
The idea of a link bait post is to include lots of high-profile individuals who provide an insight or a tip of some sort. A link bait post is a great way to let the presenters of your event share some of their expertise with your blog readers and give them visibility to your audience prior to your event.
Once you have all of the contributions gathered, you compile them into a post. These types of posts often go crazy viral.
One of the benefits of a link bait post is that it attracts some of the contributors to participate in the comment area. It creates a dialogue and a communal effort where everybody can be a part of something exciting.
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You’ll be amazed at how many participants share this type of article. Once peers see it, they begin to promote it too. The visibility you get through these shares can be very powerful.
To build your own link bait article, you first need to identify who or what types of groups of people you want to reach out to. In this case, you’ll likely want to reach out to the presenters at your event. Next, you need to put together a strategic email to invite people to contribute.
Here are some tips on how to communicate with the participants:
- Ask if they’re willing to participate. Don’t ask for the tip just yet.
- Once they commit to participating, you can give them the details. Make sure you clarify what you’re looking for, ask for screenshots and remind them of the deadline.
- Let them know you’ll include their bio and a link back to their site so they can include that in their response.
- Remind them that you’ll contact them when the article is published.
Once the article is published, the next step is to get the participants to help you share and promote the post. When you email them to let them know the article has been published, include a bit.ly URL to the article and thank them for their participation without asking them to do anything further.
You’ll discover that the result is a win for everyone.
#6: Create Custom Social Share Buttons for Your Site
Social share buttons on your promotional page make it easy for people to share your event on social channels.
The idea is that when people click on the Share button, it populates information about what you have to offer in their status update. It gives you the ability to control a consistent message across multiple social channels. Once people share your message, you know it will drive traffic back to your main promotional page.
With the Twitter Share button, you type in the URL that you want Twitter to point to. You can then customize the title of the page, show the share count and/or include a hashtag. Once you have the piece of code for the button, it can be added to your website HTML or to a widget on a WordPress website.
The Facebook Share button doesn’t have as many customization options. Instead, Facebook draws the customization from whatever URL you paste in. If you use a WordPress-driven website, you can use the WP Open Graph plugin to help you control and customize messaging.
With these customized social share buttons, you make it effortless for people to share your content.
#7: Use Twitter to Sell
Twitter is a super-powerful tool that enables you to promote what you have to sell.
On the Social Media Marketing World event page, we have a sidebar widget that shows all of the tweets from people who are talking about our event.
To create this for your own event, log into Twitter and visit the Widget settings. You’ll see a Create New Button option. When you create the widget and click on the Search tab, you’re asked to put in a search query to tell Twitter which tweets to display. This could be your hashtag or your company name.
When you configure the widget, I recommend that you only show the top tweets—otherwise you’ll get every single retweet. You also want to opt out of tailoring Twitter.
The result is a piece of script that you can paste into your WordPress sidebar or website. The box below our live widget allows people to promote Social Media Marketing World using a common hashtag.
When visitors arrive at your sales page, this widget lets them see all of the other people who’ve already made a purchase.
Additionally, you need to make it easy for anyone who comes to your sales page to share a customized tweet. All you have to do is embed a custom Tweet button. Make sure the URL you include is the same for every single page you have linked to your sales page.
To build your own custom tweet, all you have to do is visit ClicktoTweet and log in with your Twitter ID and create an account.
Next, just type in your tweet and hit the Generate New Link button. Once you have the link, you can embed it into your HTML. The result is something really cool—it allows you to track statistics and links to this particular tweet.
To discover all of the activity around the hashtag you include, you can also use Tweet Binder to see interesting statistics. It’s a useful service that I strongly recommend.
Include a custom Tweet button on your Thank-you page to empower the people who’ve already made a purchase to share it with their fans on Twitter. When they do, the hashtag pulls their tweet into the widget on your site!
Remember, when you make it easy for people to promote, they will.
Attend Social Media Marketing World 2014 for more social media tactics.
Social Media Marketing World 2014 is our physical mega-conference, which is set to return to San Diego, California on March 26, 27 and 28.
The conference features 60+ pros who will help you master social media marketing!
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Join nearly 2000 fellow marketers at the live mega-conference designed to empower and inspire you with social media marketing tactics—brought to you by Social Media Examiner.
You’ll hear from 60+ of the world’s top social media marketing pros as they reveal their newest social media marketing tips and practical, real-world, proven examples.
You’ll be able to take your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, blogging, podcasting and video marketing to an entirely new level.
What do you think? Have you tried any of these strategies? Please share your comments below.